Man page of SIEVE-FILTER
Section: Pigeonhole (1)
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sieve-filter - Pigeonhole's Sieve mailbox filter tool
WARNING: This tool is still experimental. Read this manual carefully, and
backup any important mail before using this tool. Also note that some of the
features documented here are not actually implemented yet; this is clearly
indicated where applicable.
The sieve-filter command is part of the Pigeonhole Project
(pigeonhole(7)), which adds Sieve (RFC 5228) support to the Dovecot
secure IMAP and POP3 server (dovecot(1)).
The Sieve language was originally meant for filtering messages upon delivery.
However, there are occasions when it is desirable to filter messages that are
already stored in a mailbox, for instance when a bug in a Sieve script caused
many messages to be delivered incorrectly. Using the sieve-filter tool it is
possible to apply a Sieve script on all messages in a particular
source-mailbox, making it possible to delete messages, to store them in a
different mailbox, to change their content, and to change the assigned IMAP
flags and keywords. Attempts to send messages to the outside world are ignored
by default for obvious reasons, but, using the proper command line options, it
is possible to capture and handle outgoing mail as well.
If no options are specified, the sieve-filter command runs in a simulation mode
in which it only prints what would be performed, without actually doing
anything. Use the -e option to activate true script execution. Also, the
source-mailbox is opened read-only by default, meaning that it normally
always remains unchanged. Use the -W option to allow changes in the
Even with the -W option enabled, messages in the source-mailbox
are only potentially modified or moved to a different folder. Messages are never
lost unless a discard-action argument other than keep (the default)
is specified. If the Sieve filter decides to store the message in the
source-mailbox, where it obviously already exists, it is never duplicated
there. In that case, the IMAP flags of the original message can be modified by
the Sieve interpreter using the imap4flags extension, provided that
-W is specified. If the message itself is modified by the Sieve
interpreter (e.g. using the editheader extension), a new message is stored
and the old one is expunged. However, if -W is omitted, the original
message is left untouched and the modifications are discarded.
Although this is a very useful tool, it can also be very destructive when used
improperly. A small bug in your Sieve script in combination with the wrong
command line options could cause it to discard the wrong e-mails. And, even if
the source-mailbox is opened in read-only mode to prevent such mishaps,
it can still litter other mailboxes with spurious copies of your e-mails if
your Sieve script decides to do so. Therefore, users are advised to read this
manual carefully and to use the simulation mode first to check what the script
will do. And, of course:
MAKING A BACKUP IS IMPERATIVE FOR ANY IMPORTANT MAIL!
- -c config-file
Alternative Dovecot configuration file path.
Force compilation. By default, the compiled binary is stored on disk. When this
binary is found during the next execution of sieve-filter and its
modification time is more recent than the script file, it is used and the script
is not compiled again. This option forces the script to be compiled, thus
ignoring any present binary. Refer to sievec(1) for more information about
Enable Sieve debugging.
Turns on execution mode. By default, the sieve-filter command runs in
simulation mode in which it changes nothing, meaning that no mailbox is altered
in any way and no actions are performed. It only prints what would be done.
Using this option, the sieve-filter command becomes active and performs the
- -m default-mailbox
The mailbox where the (implicit) keep Sieve action stores messages. This
is equal to the source-mailbox by default. Specifying a different folder
will have the effect of moving (or copying if -W is omitted) all kept
messages to the indicated folder, instead of just leaving them in the
- -q output-mailbox [not implemented yet]
Store outgoing e-mail into the indicated output-mailbox. By default,
the sieve-filter command ignores Sieve actions such as redirect, reject,
vacation and notify, but using this option outgoing messages can be appended to
the indicated mailbox. This option has no effect in simulation mode. Flags of
redirected messages are not preserved.
- -Q mail-command [not implemented yet]
Send outgoing e-mail (e.g. as produced by redirect, reject and vacation)
through the specified program. By default, the sieve-filter command ignores
Sieve actions such as redirect, reject, vacation and notify, but using this
option outgoing messages can be fed to the stdin of an external shell
command. This option has no effect in simulation mode. Unless you really know
what you are doing, DO NOT USE THIS TO FEED MAIL TO SENDMAIL!.
- -s script-file [not implemented yet]
Specify additional scripts to be executed before the main script. Multiple
-s arguments are allowed and the specified scripts are executed
sequentially in the order specified at the command line.
- -u user
Run the Sieve script for the given user.
Produce verbose output during filtering.
Enables write access to the source-mailbox. This allows (re)moving the
messages from the source-mailbox, changing their contents, and changing
the assigned IMAP flags and keywords.
- -x extensions
Set the available extensions. The parameter is a space-separated list of the
active extensions. By prepending the extension identifiers with + or
-, extensions can be included or excluded relative to the configured set
of active extensions. If no extensions have a + or - prefix, only
those extensions that are explicitly listed will be enabled. Unknown extensions
are ignored and a warning is produced.
For example -x "+imapflags -enotify" will enable the deprecated
imapflags extension and disable the enotify extension. The rest of the active
extensions depends on the sieve_extensions and
sieve_global_extensions settings. By default, i.e.
when sieve_extensions and sieve_global_extensions remain
unconfigured, all supported extensions are available, except for deprecated
extensions or those that are still under development.
Specifies the Sieve script to (compile and) execute.
Note that this tool looks for a pre-compiled binary file with a .svbin
extension and with basename and path identical to the specified script. Use the
-C option to disable this behavior by forcing the script to be compiled
into a new binary.
The name of the source mailbox containing the messages that the Sieve filter
will act upon. This mailbox is not modified unless the -W option is
Specifies what is done with messages in the source-mailbox that where not
kept or otherwise stored by the Sieve script; i.e. those messages that would
normally be discarded if the Sieve script were executed at delivery.
The discard-action parameter accepts one of the following values:
- keep (default)
Keep discarded messages in source mailbox.
- move mailbox
Move discarded messages to the indicated mailbox. This is for instance
useful to move messages to a Trash mailbox.
Flag discarded messages as \DELETED.
Expunge discarded messages, meaning that these are removed irreversibly when the
tool finishes filtering.
When the -W option is not specified, the source-mailbox is
immutable and the specified discard-action has no effect. This means that
messages are at most copied to a new location. In contrast, when the
-W is specified, messages that are successfully stored somewhere else by
the Sieve script are always expunged from the source-mailbox, with
the effect that these are thus moved to the new location. This happens
irrespective of the specified discard-action. Remember: only discarded
messages are affected by the specified discard-action.
will exit with one of the following values:
Sieve filter applied successfully. (EX_OK, EXIT_SUCCESS)
Operation failed. This is returned for almost all failures.
Invalid parameter given. (EX_USAGE)
Dovecot's main configuration file.
Sieve interpreter settings (included from Dovecot's main configuration file)
Report bugs, including
output, to the Dovecot Mailing List <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Information about reporting Dovecot and Pigeonhole bugs is available at:
- EXIT STATUS
- REPORTING BUGS
- SEE ALSO
This document was created by
using the manual pages.
Time: 00:41:24 GMT, December 17, 2011